When we plan a vacation, the idea is that it’s an opportunity to relax and unwind. We dream of disconnecting from work and the stress of our daily lives. We can leave everything behind, even for a brief period.
Does that always happen?
Often it doesn’t.
Vacations can turn into their own sort of stress. You may be trying to fit too many things into the time you have available, dealing with different preferences for the people you’re traveling with, or you might simply find it hard to actually relax no matter the setting or situation.
When you’re taking the vacation you’ve been thinking about and planning for so long, the following are tips that can actually help you rewind and get the most out of it.
Have a Budget and Stick To It
One reason you might feel stressed out or unable to relax on vacation is that you’re worried about the amount of money you’re spending.
Set a budget before you plan any specifics of a trip, and don’t go outside of that. Maybe you create a separate savings account, and you put just vacation money in it. Then, you don’t feel guilty when you spend it.
Pay for as much as you can ahead of time and give yourself a spending budget for when you’re actually on your trip.
A budget isn’t necessarily the most fun concept in the world, but it will likely end up reducing your stress quite a bit.
Do Things You Actually Enjoy
So often, when we plan a vacation, we’re thinking about what the picture-perfect social media image will look like or what we should be doing while we’re away. For example, maybe you think you need to spend every minute sightseeing to get the most out of your vacation, or you feel like you have to go hiking every day.
If you like these things, that’s fine. If you don’t, don’t do them. If you would rather spend every day sitting by the pool, then do that.
Get a Hotel Instead of a Vacation Rental
There are a lot of good things to be said about a vacation rental. If you’re taking a trip with a big family, or you want to spend less money eating out, it can be great to have some of the things you have at home, like a kitchen.
At the same time, if your ultimate goal is relaxing, renting a vacation home can deter you from that goal.
You may feel you’ve transferred all of your responsibilities from home to your vacation, like laundry, meal planning, and prep and cleaning up.
You should consider this possible risk when you’re deciding on accommodations.
Plan Ahead, But Don’t Go Overboard
Having a plan in place before you go on a trip can be a good thing. You can feel like you see all the things that are important to you, and it helps when you’re budgeting as well.
At the same time, make sure that you’re not overly scheduling your vacation.
Leave lots of time between activities and things you plan to do and give yourself ample free time.
Also, even if things don’t go according to plan or your schedule, it’s okay.
Disconnect From Work
You might not want to totally disconnect from everything back at home because that can make you feel more stressed. For example, you want family and friends to be able to get in touch with you if they need.
Work is a different story. Initially, the concept of disconnecting from your work altogether can be overwhelming, but even if something comes up, there’s probably nothing you’re going to be able to do about it while you’re away.
Set an away message for your work email, and let people know who they can contact if they need something while you’re gone.
If it’s completely impossible for you to disconnect from work fully, you can set a limit on the amount of time you’ll connect each day on your vacation. That will help you deal with any major situations, and for some people, this could be the more relaxing option for them.
Finally, give yourself an extra day after you return from a trip, particularly if it’s a long one, where you can regroup and settle back into things before you have to go back to work and your responsibilities. If you have this time, you’ll feel more relaxed on your actual trip because you won’t be thrown back into things right away.